Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama-Biden presents a dilemma for Roman Catholics

Senator Joe Biden, 65, has twice sought the White House himself. He has immense experience in defence and foreign policy — areas in which Senator Obama fares relatively poorly in the polls compared with Senator McCain – but he is a Roman Catholic with a long record of liberal voting, and a long-standing supporter of Roe v. Wade and a woman's ‘right to choose’.

His selection poses a major challenge for American Roman Catholics. A pro-abortion Catholic choice as a vice presidential candidate may offend and alienate very many Christians for whom the sanctity of life and the belief that life begins at conception are articles of faith.

The American bishops have made clear that Roman Catholic political leaders must defend the dignity of every human person, including the unborn. But Senator Biden's tenure in the United States Senate has been marked by steadfast support for legal abortion.

In 2004, John Kerry's support for abortion sparked a nationwide controversy over whether Roman Catholics who support legal abortion can receive Communion. The debate was re-activated in 2007 when several bishops criticised Rudy Guiliani, also a pro-abortion Roman Catholic.

The Obama campaign will now have the very considerable problem that everywhere Senator Biden campaigns, the media will be church-watching to see if he can find a priest who will permit him to receive the host. Whilst the private/public division has so far pertained - the notion that politicians can personally and privately oppose abortion whilst refusing to pass laws protecting the unborn - the increasingly widespread view is that this is a manifest hypocrisy.

Bishop Saltarelli, the senator’s own bishop, said: "No one today would accept this statement from any public servant: 'I am personally opposed to human slavery and racism but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.' Likewise, none of us should accept this statement from any public servant: "I am personally opposed to abortion but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena’."

He has made it clear that pro-abortion Catholic politicians should refrain from receiving the Eucharist. He said: “The promotion of abortion by any Catholic is a grave and serious matter. Objectively, according to the constant teaching of the Scriptures and the Church, it would be more spiritually beneficial for such a person to refrain from receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. I ask Catholics in this position to have the integrity to respect the Eucharist, Catholic
teaching and the Catholic faithful."

The American bishops have instructed Roman Catholic voters to consider many issues, but have characterised the defence of human life as 'foundational' and have explained that the issue has a special claim on the conscience of the Catholic voter. This means that a political candidate like Senator Biden, because of his strong support for abortion rights, is unworthy of support despite his views on other issues like defence, health care and the economy.

And let us not pretend that this is only a problem for America’s Roman Catholics. The Evangelical contingent – the ‘Religious Right’ - in the United States is a hugely influential and highly vocal contingent. Senator Obama might just have handed the White House to Senator McCain (though Cranmer has never doubted that this will be the outcome of this contest). The choice may have given the world's leaders someone to phone at 3.00am, but the experience of the vice president ensures that it is he who will be on the other end of the line, undermining the president at every turn. Senator Biden does not plug the gaps in the Obama quest to become the most powerful political leader on the planet; he draws attention to them. And neither man will have the blessing the most powerful religious leader on the planet. If Senator McCain chooses his running mate wisely, it is he who will be annnointed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your grace, I have only recently become acquainted with your writings through a friend's recommendation. Oh how I thank my friend. My heart overflows with gratitude to you. In all your works you are saying what I think but dare not speak the words. I wish you more power to yer elbow!
Till we meet again.
Reluctantly Silent.

23 August 2008 at 11:51  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr REluctantly Silent,

His Grace welcomes you to his august blog of intelligent and erudite comment upon matters religio-political.

Because he has a policy of not engaging with anonymice, he exhorts all of his communicants to acquire an identity of some kind. If you are stuck for creativity, he has not had a 'Colin' for some time, so that name is most certainly available.

23 August 2008 at 12:00  
Blogger Jomo said...

In case there is any doubt the following report can be found at the link below.

The Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of the Holy See, Archbishop Raymond L Burke, pointed out that Catholics, especially politicians, who publicly advocate abortion should not take commune, and said that Church ministers had a duty to deny communion if such people request it until they have reformed their views.

"Who can claim a right to receive the Body of Christ? Everything is an act without a measure of God's love. Our Lord makes himself available in his Body and his Blood but we can not ever say that we have the right to receive in the Holy Communion. Every time we approach him must do so with a profound awareness of our indignity, "said the Prefect.

"If we have a mortal sin in consciousness, we must first confess that sin and receive absolution, and only after we approach the Eucharistic Sacrament", he said stressing that a person who commits sins in this manner must be publicly reprimand so they do not receive Communion until they have reformed their lives. The Vatican prelate said then that denying Communion in these cases prevents it generating a scandal, "first, a scandal concerning our readiness to receive Holy Communion.”

In other words, the archbishop said, "It should be avoided that people are led to believe that one can be in a state of mortal sin and approaching the Eucharist. Secondly, there might be another way of scandal, by allowing people to think that the public event that this person is doing, which until now all believed that it was a serious sin, it is not a question of whether the Church allows you to receive Communion."

Raymond L Burke also said that when a bishop or ecclesiastical authority prevents someone who supports abortion to receive communion, it "has no intention to interfere in public life but in the spiritual state of the political or public official who, if Catholic, should follow the divine law."

23 August 2008 at 12:47  
Blogger Judith said...

Well, Hallelujah!

I found this site quite by accident, but my continued visits will be deliberate.

In a day when ethics seem to be relative, it is refreshing to see moral absolutes propounded.

Thank you.

23 August 2008 at 14:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Biden is another fake catholics that does not follow the Catholic Church teachings. He supports killing the unborn. This man should be excommunicated for the Catholic Church.

23 August 2008 at 16:16  
Blogger Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

With all due respect to your Grace, as an American with a great deal of familiarity with many things political, it should be remembered that, while it is true a Roman Catholic Bishop publicly stated he would deny Sen. Kerry communion due to his pro-choice stance, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops immediately issued a statement that such was not the policy or practice of Bishops in the United States, as it was an unwarranted interference of church and state.

Sen. Biden's stance vis-a-vis abortion might get many conservatives riled up, but the issue itself is simply not on the table this election cycle. With our recent housing-bubble bursting, and the banking industry teetering, plus the on-going problems with two wars going badly, and the general public corruption of the Republican Party, I do not think Sen. Biden's position on a peripheral issue matter one jot or tittle.

I think you are correct, however, to assume the press will attempt to make a mountain out of that particular molehill. Biden is a smart politician (for the most part; he does have a tendency to stick his foot in his mouth, too), and will most likely be able to get around any attempt by the press to play "gotcha" with abortion.

23 August 2008 at 18:06  
Anonymous Melody said...

With all due respect to the above poster, as another American with an even greater familiarity with things political, Biden is a disaster for the Obama camp. There are millions of Americans who care a hell of a lot more about millions of innocent babies who are aborted than they do about a few wars happening thousands of miles away. It isn't an issue of church and state but faith and politics, and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is very clear on that. If you're Catholic it's your duty to oppose abortion. This isn't 'peripheral' - it's central. So don't presume to speak for all Americans because you don't, and I'm now for McCain, and it's Biden that's done it for me.

23 August 2008 at 20:50  
Anonymous Terry said...

The need is for believers to pray that US Christians will not be deceived and that they will vote as God wants them to - prayed from the heart, and without mentioning any names, this will probably suffice to sway the election result.

24 August 2008 at 00:37  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

despite the U2s beautiful day theme tune , somthing seems odd , binden looks more presidential than barak obama .

that berlin speech looks all wrong now .

its very concerning that so much style over substance can win over so many american voters .mind you blair did it over here first, dont say we didnt warn you america , vote for the guy who will stand down if gets it wrong .

we have a prime minister that the media are now refering as some sort of ignorant liar that is approaching certain aspects of mental illness , you dont want that do you .

saddle back church interview was very telling , obama didnt give straight answers on some questions
macain was on fine form .

24 August 2008 at 02:00  
Anonymous PaganPride said...

Let me get this straight - You don't support abortion because that's killing the unborn - Right?

You don't support contraception because that's preventing creation of the unborn - Right?

Well I bet you are all male, so what about surgical intervention for men to prevent continuous pregnancies - No?

Tell you what - I don't believe that people should impose laws and rules for anyone else, unless they have experienced the action they wish to legislate for.

So go away, create and nurture a life in your body, bring it forth in pain and blood and then, and only then will you have the right to dictate to me what I can or cannot do with my body.

Until then shut up.

24 August 2008 at 04:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To murder an unborn is a sin in the eyes of god and catholic church. If you want to murder your unborn go ahead and sin. and no I will never shut up for the one's that cant speak out for themselfs and die everyday.

24 August 2008 at 06:16  
Anonymous Douglas Johnson said...

I'm the legislative director for National Right to Life. I can offer a little more detail on this topic.

As indicated, Senator Biden is a strong supporter of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling, which mandated abortion on demand. He has played a leading role in blocking or trying to block the nominees to the Supreme Court who were opposed by pro-abortion advocacy groups, such as Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito. Biden has not voted on the pro-life side on any roll call vote scored by National Right to Life since 2003.

However, Biden's record on certain pro-life issues is contrary to the positions that Obama has taken -- which is to say, both as a state senator and as a U.S. Senator, while Obama has always embraced the most expansively pro-abortion policy option of those placed before him, there are several specific issues on which Biden has not done that.

These divergences actually illustrate some of the extremes of Obama's record. For example:

Obama vs. Biden on Partial-Birth Abortion

The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was enacted in 2003, with Senator Biden's support, and was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in April, 2007. (For more about the content and significance of this legislation, go here:

At that time, Barack Obama sharply criticized the U.S. Supreme Court for its ruling, saying, “I strongly disagree with today’s Supreme Court ruling . . ." As to Biden: "I voted for the partial-birth abortion ban," said [Sen. Joe]
Biden while answering a woman's question at a conference sponsored by the National Jewish Democratic Council. "I think it’s an extraordinary circumstance, I make no apologies for it.", April 24, 2007.

Obama vs. Biden on tax-funded abortions

Barack Obama advocates federal funding of abortion, and while in the Illinois legislature he voted against legislation to restrict state funding of abortion on demand. That is consistent with the policy advocated in the proposed 2008 Democratic Party platform, which says, "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay . . ." In short, Obama and the platform favor repeal of the Hyde Amendment and the other laws that prevent funding of abortion in federal programs such as Medicaid. But Senator Biden has been voting for many of those laws for decades. Biden has written, "I might also
add that I find it difficult to understand how those who refuse to limit the right of abortion in this country can at the same time support the expansion of the government's
financial involvement in providing for abortions. That is why I have been a consistent supporter of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of Medicaid funds to finance
abortions. I believe that it is not the government's business to be promoting abortion in any way." (Letter, June 16, 1983)

Obama v. Biden on Born-Alive Infants Protection legislation

On 2001, Biden voted for the language of the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA), which recognizes babies who are born alive during abortions as legally
protected persons, while we recently released documents proving that Obama killed a virtually identical bill in the Illinois State Senate in 2003. For more information on
Obama's documented record on the live-born abortion survivors issue -- as contrasted with his claims -- go here:

Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director
National Right to Life Committee

24 August 2008 at 11:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


don't presume to speak for all women, please. As a rape victim who has had an abortion - thinking it would cure everything - I can wholeheartedly say it was not the answer. If anyone can go through an abortion and feel nothing for the baby, before or after, she must be incredibly selfish. It would certainly have been easier to have had the baby, not that there would have been no emotional pain; just that at least I'd have had the knowledge that somewhere a childless couple could have had the joy and happiness of bringing him/her up. Instead, I have the constant pain of knowing what I did to my baby. And as I've said before on this blog, if you go to your Doctor with an un-planned pregnancy, that's their first and only answer.

I wish abortion was less easy to obtain, not least for the sake of the women who seek it thinking it will be the solution all these bloody idiot medics and feminists, in their ignorant tiny minds, think it should be (civil-service thinking; if 'x' do 'y'). However, I also wish that some of the pro-life lobby could tear themselves away from debating about dates long enough to work out how to give real help to women who find themselves pregnant and unable to cope, whatever the reason. Might I suggest that embracing these women with the love and affection Christ would have shown would be a better start than treating them as sub-human. Some of them aren't in the position they're in due to being careless.

In true BBC fashion, if you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this posting, you can seek further help from Rachel's Vineyard - google it. As well as the mother, they help partners, parents, anyone who was involved whether they wanted to be or not.

24 August 2008 at 12:36  
Anonymous Orwells Ghost said...

"neither man will have the blessing the most powerful religious leader on the planet."

You mean the Nazi?
I am sure the Zionist will have no problems with getting the Nazi Popes blessing, whether it is a public blessing or not.

24 August 2008 at 21:56  
Anonymous PaganPride said...

anonymous 12.23

I never spoke for all women - I spoke for ME!

You can make any choice you want to, you can decide to have or not to have a child - the choice is yours - while there is a choice.

I would never presume to tell you what to do or how to behave.

So why do you think you have any right to decide how I should behave, or how anyone else should act in a set of circumstances that you have no part of??

what gives you or any of you the right to legislate about what choices I can make for myself about my body - and until a child is born and breathing by itself, it is part of MY body not yours.

And if that is feminism then power to it. The alternative is of course back yard abortion clinics; and if you force women with no other choice down that road again, you comit more than just murder of the unoborn. But I forget, in your highly ethical point of view the child is far more important that the mere 'vessel' isn't it?

Don't presume to impose laws on people based on a moralistic hypocracy that many despise.

24 August 2008 at 23:11  
Blogger Ælfhere said...

When he was still just Cardinal Ratizinger the present Pope all but intervened in the last Presidential Election to tell Catholics not to vote for Kerry because he was a baby-killing monster. And some did, but most didn't.

Obama seems to have found and American Catholic politician even less electable than John Kerry.

25 August 2008 at 12:09  
Blogger Chalcedon said...

Biden isn't a real Catholic then, is he?

31 August 2008 at 18:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankfully, people in America seem to finally be reasonable enough to separate religious dogmas from what is truly important, and have elected Barack Obama.

18 August 2009 at 19:22  

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